Mead Lover's Digest #0953 Wed 11 September 2002


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor



Planet Buzz ("Dan McFeeley")
Re: Distillation ("Robert Goulding")
RE to Mead yeast alternative + Raisin mead ("Ken Taborek")
Re: Mead and batonage ("Ken Taborek")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #952, 7 September 2002 ("Robert Goulding")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #952, 7 September 2002 ("Chuck Wettergreen")
honey shortage (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #952, 7 September 2002 (
Rookie question (Bruce Carpenter)


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Subject: Planet Buzz
From: "Dan McFeeley" <>
Date: Sat, 7 Sep 2002 15:00:11 -0500

Who's going to Ray Daniel's Mead Fest in Chicago this November?
I just got word from the hospital I work at that the powers that be
granted me time off to attend, so I'll be there. Any one else?

Think I might design my own MLD t-shirt for the occasion. Maybe a
graphic from an old AMA journal with an MLD header of some kind,
not sure yet . . .


Dan McFeeley

Subject: Re: Distillation
From: "Robert Goulding" <>
Date: Sat, 7 Sep 2002 21:20:37 -0600

There is virtually no way for a homebrewer to get a license for
distillation from the ATF. They say so right on their website.
You cannot produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes
and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits
plant. [See 26 U.S.C. 5601 & 5602 for some of the criminal penalties.]
There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it
impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use. Some of
these requirements are paying special tax, filing an extensive
application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure
spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate
building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and
filing reports. All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19.

Spirits may be produced for nonbeverage purposes for fuel use only
without payment of tax, but you also must file an application, receive
ATF's approval, and follow requirements, such as construction, use,
records and reports."=20

Possession of any alcoholic beverage over a certain percentage (I don't
remember the percentage exactly-22 or 26 I think) is unlawful to have
possession of if you made it yourself. As near as I could determine
from the website (it is really confusing to read), this applies even if
you buy everclear and mix it with apple cider. If the ending percentage
is over whatever the magic level is, you can't have it. So, if you can
get a license, it's legal; but you probably can't get a license if you
are a homebrewer. The licensing process to distill is supposedly a
nightmare. All of that aside, you can always get a higher concentration
of alcohol from simple freeze distillation of any liquid containing
alcohol. There is nothing easier, it is simple physics: just freeze
your liquid, upend the frozen container over a bucket and remove the
bucket (containing mostly ice) when you figure you have gotten most of
the alcohol out. Alcohol thaws at a much higher temperature than does
water, so it comes out first. If you do this with alcohol, and don't
have a license, you could get in big trouble. The process should work
the same whether it is done with methyl or ethyl alcohol. Physics is

Dick Dunn, I don't know if this satisfies your original question about
Mead Brandy or not but the process should work. There would probably be
quite a bit of wastage also. It may not be very exact given different
temperatures of different freezers etc. but it is dead simple. Simpler
is better, I heard that somewhere.

Robert Goulding
625 South Street
Rapid City, South Dakota




Subject: RE to Mead yeast alternative + Raisin mead
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Sat, 7 Sep 2002 23:49:43 -0400

> Subject: RE to Mead yeast alternative + Raisin mead
> From: <>
> Date: Tue, 6 Aug 2002 09:04:51 -0400 (EDT)


> Hi fellow mead makers,


> I'm pretty new to brewing, my first batches are happily fermenting, and
> I just received my first issue of the digest. I'm pretty excited and I
> look forward to the end result.


> 1) I'd like to request Ken Taborek's recipe(s) for raisin mead
> (mentioned in the archives of the digest).
> Did you make it mead or sack? My (golden) raisins (from ACME) contain
> SO2. Should I wash them or go "organic" (hard to find)? Thank you much
> in advance.


Welcome to the hobby! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Sorry for the delay in responding, I've been waiting for the need to rack or
bottle a batch to dig out my notes, and I've just bottled a cherry melomel
and a fig melomel, and remembered to keep my notes handy. 🙂

I use some raisins in almost all of my meads, typically less than a cup.
But I believe that you are referring to the two batches I've made using
raisins as the main ingredient other than water and honey.

I had a lot of interesting experiences with the golden raisin batch. I
learned, after some research on the subject, that the sulphites used to
prevent browning in the golden raisins slowed the start of fermentation.
Three days after pitching, there was no visible activity. I had been out of
town for those three days, and so I don't know exactly when the black raisin
mead had started fermentation (I had brewed them both in the same day), but
it was quite active at this point. I started a 1 gallon yeast starter, and
began a regimen of aeration, aerating the must for 5 minutes every 6 hours
or so. The aeration did the trick, as the day the 1 gallon starter was
ready to pitch (6 days after initial pitch) I awoke to find the airlock
pumping furiously. So, I used that starter to make three other batches,
using 1/3 gallon of the starter for each batch. 🙂

Golden Raisin Melomel

12 lbs orange blossom honey
5 lbs golden raisins
1 oz Perle hop pellets
3 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp yeast energizer
1 tsp gypsum
3 tsp acid blend
Wyeast sweet mead smack pack

I soaked the raisins in enough water to cover them for about a day. Fearing
that the yeast would not be able to access the sugars inside the raisins, I
blended them, and used a fine mesh fruit bag to hold the raisins in the

OG: 1.120 FG: 1.010

Tasting notes prior to bottling: Nose light, sweet, hints of fruit, light
syrup. Taste vinous, full bodied, sweet.

Black Raisin Melomel

12 lbs tulip poplar honey
4.5 lbs black seedless California raisins
3 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp yeast energizer
1 tsp gypsum
2 tsp acid blend
Wyeast dry mead smack pack

OG: 1.110
FG: 1.016

Tasting notes prior to bottling: Nose caramel, port. Taste vinous, very
full bodied, rich and chewy, sherry, port, toasted grains.

These two meads were also my, oh, 4th or 5th attempts at using Wyeast mead
yeasts. You'll note that the 'sweet' mead yeast started higher and
fermented lower than the 'dry' mead yeast. That result is
counterintuitive… This is typical of my experience with these two yeasts.
I find them very unpredictable in their behavior, unlike a good many other
yeasts that give consistent results. I will not be using them in the

This was my first and only two attempts to make a mead strictly with
raisins, and I was experimenting with yeasts at the same time. So, please
take my results with the proper grain of salt… I was happy with both
batches. The golden I may try to recreate for use in blending, as it
possessed a very good body that I find absent from many meads, along with a
light taste that I believe will blend well. The black raisin I will not
rush to recreate. This is a matter of personal tastes, as I am not a fan of
ports, which this mead resembled closely to my taste.
If I were to revisit the golden raisin mead, I'd cover the raisins with hot
water for 5 minutes, and drain them. Yes, I'd lose some sugars, but I
believe that I would also remove the sulphites. I'd also make my batch a
bit larger than 5 gallons, since the blended raisins, even wrung and
squeezed out upon first racking, take a sizable volume with them when they
are removed from the mead.



Subject: Re: Mead and batonage
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 00:48:18 -0400

> Subject: Mead and batonage
> From: "Kemp, Alson" <>
> Date: Thu, 5 Sep 2002 13:10:03 -0700


> Has anyone aged mead on lees for an extended period of
> time? How about with batonage? (stirring of the lees)
> I'm thinking about starting a new batch of orange
> blossom, fermenting it in a 5 gallon oak barrel and aging it in
> the oak barrel on lees. Comments?


> -Alson


I've aged mead on its lees for periods up to nine to twelve months. My
meads have exibited no ill effects from this aging, and indeed I believe
that the sur lee aging protects the mead during extended aging, and
contributes to it's flavor.

I have not roused the lees, presumably in an attempt to encourage the yeast
to continue the fermentation a few points further?

I have no experience with barrels of any kind, but if barrel aging can be
said to approximate carboy aging with the addition of oak chips, I believe
that sur lee aging will have a positive impact on your mead.



Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #952, 7 September 2002
From: "Robert Goulding" <>
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 08:58:28 -0600

On a completely different note, my sanitizer of choice is One Step. Does
anybody out there know if the new commercially available stain removers such
as "Oxyclean" are the same stuff? From the description they seem to be
but… They are much cheaper than buying One Step and I am a skinflint.
Any information anybody has will be appreciated.


Robert Goulding
625 South Street
Rapid City, South Dakota




Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #952, 7 September 2002
From: "Chuck Wettergreen" <>
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 10:34:08 -0500

In MLD #952 Phil <> asked about a "Honey

> Two sources I was looking into for honey (one in New
> York, the other in Connecticut) both told me that
> there may be a shortage of honey this fall. This is
> due to the high and dry summer we've had in the
> northeast. How wide-spread is this?

There's more at work here than the drought (in some areas). Most
reports I've seen
report record high levels of honey production. I know my bees are
still working overtime.
Second, all Chinese honey has been completely cut off due to
their widespread use of
unauthorized antibiotics which showed up in their honey. Millions
of pounds of Chinese
honey is now not available to the US and Europe. Third, because
of dumping, the US
government imposed a stiff tariff on Argentine and Chinese honey.
Argentina was one
of the largest suppliers to the US market.

The net effect of this is that honey prices in the US are very
high, and demand is very
strong. Dutch Gold sent me about three notices of price
increases, but then sent a final
letter saying, prices are spiraling up so fast we re not going to
send any more letters.

Chuck Wettergreen
Geneva, IL

Subject: honey shortage
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 21:11:42 EDT

I would say we are experiencing a shortage…. We just extracted honey today
and we expected much more! We got just 200 lbs on around 10 hives. Not too
great at all! We think there was virtually nothing after July. So expect
prices to go up and possibly a shortage all around. We can usual
realistically expect at least 75 lbs per hive, possibly more.

> Two sources I was looking into for honey (one in New
> York, the other in Connecticut) both told me that
> there may be a shortage of honey this fall. This is
> due to the high and dry summer we've had in the
> northeast. How wide-spread is this?

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #952, 7 September 2002
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 22:30:10 EDT

In a message dated 9/7/2002 3:07:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

> Subject: Honey famine?
> From: Phil <>
> Date: Thu, 5 Sep 2002 11:31:03 -0700 (PDT)


> Two sources I was looking into for honey (one in New
> York, the other in Connecticut) both told me that
> there may be a shortage of honey this fall. This is
> due to the high and dry summer we've had in the
> northeast. How wide-spread is this?

> >

> Phil



While I'm not an expert on honey or beekeeping, I have it from my

beekeeper friend and honey source that this is actually a "bumper crop" (his
words) for honey this year, at least in Pennsylvania. While the drought is
causing the flowering plants to produce less nectar for the bees to collect,
the many dry days is allowing the bees to work extra hard. Bees are grounded
in bad weather. No rainy days, no idle days for the bees. The dry weather
is causing the honey to be on the light side, but it's still quite good.

There is a price increase in honey, but not due to drought.

Apparently there was a problem with honey imports from China or some such
place, causing a glitch in supply of overseas honey. Domestic honey is doing
just fine in the dry weather. Any supply problems with honey can be blamed
on problems overseas, not here at home.



Subject: Rookie question
From: Bruce Carpenter <>
Date: Mon, 09 Sep 2002 08:01:26 -0500


With only one (unsuccessful) batch under my belt, I want to try a melomel
using orange blossom honey and orange peel for added flavor/aroma. Would the
collective suggest adding the fruit to the primary or wait until after
fermentation and add to the secondary? Also, I am finding conflicting
opinions on whether to rack off the yeast after fermentation, or to let the
whole thing sit and age untouched. When brewing beer, I usually transfer off
the yeast after fermentation and condition in a secondary.

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance,

Bruce Carpenter
Birmingham, AL

End of Mead Lover's Digest #953